So the men of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the rest of Israel at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. They started the journey back to their own land of Gilead, the territory that belonged to them according to the Lord’s command through Moses. But while they were still in Canaan, and when they came to a place called Geliloth near the Jordan River, the men of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh stopped to build a large and imposing altar. The rest of Israel heard that the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had built an altar at Geliloth at the edge of the land of Canaan, on the west side of the Jordan River. Joshua 22:9-11
As the men of the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh fought side by side with the Israelites defeating the Canaanites, they were now heading home. When they were leaving Shiloh where the tabernacle was located, these tribes realized that they have to have their own place where they can offer their sacrifices. Since they were far from Shiloh, they built for themselves their own altar. Part of the Levitical command that the Israelites had to abide with was the strict observance of worship in a specified place designated by God Himself (see Leviticus 17:8-9). What these tribes did was a clear violation of God’s command and has to be meted with punishment so that there will be no further defilement. These tribes decided to live far away from the rest of the Israelites “at the edge of the land of Canaan” because they found that the land in this area is good for raising their livestock. When Abraham asked Lot where he wants to reside, he chose the one near Sodom because it was ideal for raising his cattle. Both the decisions made by the tribes of Reuben, Gad , and Manasseh and Lot were not by faith but by sight. The people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh preferred to live closer to the enemy than to be closer with the people of God. They have enjoyed the blessings of being in the family of God but will still not completely rest and trust God. They would rather live base on their preference on what will satisfy their longings even if it will mean living outside of God’s will. True faith in God will never be satisfied by partial obedience for partial obedience is not obedience at all.
Have a blessed, fruitful, hopeful, joyful, and safe New Year!